Love Stage!! Episodes 5 and 6

Maybe Izumi should have tried smackjeeves first.

Izumi’s labour-of-love manga series wins the presitigious Kadoyama Prize and gets serialized, sells millions of copies and is adapted into both an anime and live-action movie. Unfortunately this was all just a dream, but his dream of winning the prize is as real as ever and so he dedicates all the time he can to trying to finish his comic before the deadline.  Meanwhile, Ryouma is proving to be extremely annoying by texting him constantly, but Izumi warms up to him a little more when he tells him that he likes his crappy drawings.

With the deadline fast approaching and the manga itself far from done, Izumi decides that the only way he can finish it on time is to enlist Ryouma’s help as his assistant. The two bond a little more over their now shared project, although Ryouma finds it harder and harder to keep his feelings for Izumi in check.

Great disguise Ryouma, A+, no way anyone will recognize you.

I may have  complained before about the overly cartoony humour in a lot of episode 4, but episode 5 proved to me once again that this show can honestly be hilarious when it wants to be. I really like the dream segments and this one was one of my favourite sequences out of any other anime this season. Izumi’s notoriously bad art is funny enough on its own as a recurring sight gag, but seeing it adapted into an anime which looked for all the world like Nyan Neko Sugar Girls actually had me laughing out loud.

Otherwise, most of this episode centered around the two boys managing to bond a little more over completing the manga. It was a nice scene of Ryouma being genuinely helpful, as well as having a few of those nice little tidbits about making manga the traditional way that it’s fun to hear about.Although more and more artists recently are opting to do at least the toning part digitally, given that its more cost effective, this method of inking and toning manga still seems to be the norm in Japan at least. It’s a pity that Izumi’s knowledge of the process doesn’t translate into any artistic ability whatsoever…yet it was still very funny to me that Ryouma’s additions to the artwork actually showed quite a bit of skill on his part. If Izumi’s writing abilities are better than his art, maybe he should just let Ryouma do all of the artwork and they can team up in that way. Actually, that could be a nice direction for the show to take.

Besides being rather clingy and annoying, Ryouma has been slowly growing on me and was acting remarkably decent.  Of course, just in case you were about to forget this was a BL show, he does steal some kisses from Izumi after he falls asleep from exhaustion. There’s certainly some skeevy undertones to that, but he was such a dork about it that I do think the show managed to succeed in getting it to come across as more ridiculous and funny than overtly creepy. I never thought I’d see a not-exactly-consensual kiss (or rather, series of kisses) in a BL thing that made me laugh more than be creeped out, although it also helps that said kisses were rather innocent and Ryouma did not morph into a sparkly pink blob again.

Anyway, it’s a good thing I was able to watch this one basically back to back with episode 6 as it ended with a cliffhanger.

Ryouma being actually really good at drawing was the funniest thing about this episode to me.
Dont go stabbing Izumi with that elbow now.

Out of 5,


Episode 6

I wonder how probable Izumi figures are, because I suddenly feel like I need one.

So about that cliffhanger – apparently some paparazzi snapped some candid pictures of Izumi and Ryouma on their pseudo-date from episode four, with Izumi being identified as ‘the girl from the commercial’. Ryouma’s boss is angry – he doesn’t want a scandal erupting about him having a ‘girlfriend’. Izumi’s mistaken gender aside, Ryouma can’t risk his career as an idol over a relationship (you know how Japan gets with their idols, after all.)

With the race to suppress these photos from being released, Rei has another plan in mind – Izumi should finally live up to his family name and make his debut in showbiz so that the media can focus on that instead. Izumi of course does not want to – especially now that he and Ryouma have finally finished his manga entry, and heads off to submit it to the publishers – Rei finally lets him, under the condition that he give up on his manga dream if he gets rejected. When, predictably, the publisher does reject him, he becomes incredibly depressed and ends up hiding out at Ryouma’s place so that Rei won’t find out about his failure.

Awkwardness, thy name is Ryouma.
Being Rei is suffering, whether you’re in this show or Free!.

This episode was a lot more plot-heavy than expected, and sets the stage up for a boatload of conflict. It’s the first time we get to see Ryouma’s boss, who seems to be a complete douchebag. Given the length of this show (apparently only 10 episodes plus OVAs) I’m going to assume that this boss character is going to be the source of the main conflict in the show, particularly if he finds out Izumi’s gender.

Most of this episode was focussed on Izumi’s reaction to being rejected by the publisher. And even though his manga looked objectively awful, I couldn’t help feeling quite sad about this. After watching him and Ryouma work so hard on it in the previous episode, it was actually a little disappointing to see him told that he has no talent straight to his face like that. While there’s not quite as much as the previous episode, there’s also some decently funny moments – and another glimpse at what exactly the Lala-Lulu anime is like (Izumi yelling at the TV for Lala-Lulu to be careful was cute, too.)

Ryouma shows some remarkable restraint (for a BL seme character, I mean) at having Izumi in his house, and in his bath, and pantsless in his bed, although the episode ends on a cliffhanger with him seemingly losing it.  Come on now, Ryouma. You’ve grown on me so much, don’t ruin it all now. I can’t help being wary for the next episode, because even if Izumi said at the end of this one that he didn’t care what Ryouma does, I’m going to lose a lot of the respect I’d managed to build up for him if he takes advantage of Izumi’s depression like that. Why you gotta play me like this, BL.

Even so, if watching anime for as long as I have had taught me anything it’s that cliffhangers like these often result in something unexpected, so hopefully Ryouma doesn’t end up doing something shitty like forcing himself on Izumi and then blaming Izumi for being too alluring like so many seme characters before him. Regardless of my feelings on this matter, this show has proven itself to be quite a solid blend of humour and drama once again.

That is a pretty great face, though.
I still want to read/watch Lala-Lulu.

Out of 5,

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